Political Advertising in 2020: 4 Ways to Grow Awareness for Your Campaign

05.18.2020 Cox Media

As many companies and news outlets are telling you – 2020 is unprecedented year. Nearly every industry has been affected by recent events and the upcoming election season is no exception. The presidential election aside, many political races across the country are navigating a competitive landscape to vie for voters, as voters themselves are managing the disruption in their routines and daily lives.

Here are four actions to consider as you work to increase awareness for your campaign in a year where political staples like rallies and events may not be possible.


Nearly all political issues have the ability to divide a community in any given year. And with the stress level of the general public even higher than usual, the 2020 election season could bring forth heightened emotions from both sides of the aisle. As you approach the messaging for your campaign moving forward, consider the various challenges voters and local businesses are facing at the moment and respond with empathy before diving into any campaign details.

In addition, think about small steps you can take to “show up” in your community and simultaneously attach your campaign to those actions. For example, you could pick up a to-go meal from a local restaurant and deliver it to a nearby hospital for healthcare workers.  Or you could work with your campaign volunteers to organize a social-distance car “parade” to celebrate the educators or graduating seniors at a local high school. Whatever you do, make sure it is genuine and rooted in empathy. This is a great opportunity  to gain support as a valued member of the community, in addition to support as a respected politician.


There are many ways to recreate the energy and excitement of a live political event through virtual platforms. You likely already have a Facebook (or Instagram) page set up for your campaign – both of these channels offer the ability to go “live” and interact with audiences as they tune into your virtual event (click here for Facebook’s “live” tips). You can use these pre-scheduled virtual events to make announcements, to host a Q&A, or even simply to check in on your constituents and show them a behind the scenes look at how your life has changed due to recent events.

In order for a virtual event to be successful, your intended audience needs to be told when (and how) it is taking place. Be sure to promote the event(s) via email, on your social media channels and other places online – and even on Television (more on that below).


Because of its reach and targeting capabilities, cable TV is always a strong option for political advertising as it gets your message across and helps you reach voters as they tune in to their favorite programming.  And with more people at home for larger portions of the day, TV viewership is surging, maintaining consistently high year-over-year audience gains throughout March and April.  In fact, the average total-day TV audience was up more than 11% vs. April 2019. 

In addition, cable TV advertising can be more effective than regular local broadcast channels due to its greater variety of channels for exposure rather than a singular channel from a local broadcast. With cable TV advertising, you are also able to buy zones or smaller areas of your city. A  zone TV ad buy is a more affordable option and lets you reach specific audiences with geographic precision, targeting voters more effectively. Zones allow your business to choose those pocket areas where your customers are and not waste your ad buy on audiences who won’t deliver a solid return on your investment.

Finally, shifts in the overall political advertising landscape in response to the recent pandemic may provide advertising opportunities for your campaign. For instance, political advertising slowed down as the pandemic ramped up, allowing space for you as a candidate to get your message out there while your competitors aren’t. In addition, there has been significantly less pre-booking by large PACs advertising on cable TV, freeing up more inventory opportunities for local races to advertise, while spending less than you would on broadcast. 


In the cable TV section above, we mention the variety of channels and other methods of targeting available. But how do you know where to reach the voters you are trying to reach? That’s where we can help. As your media partners, Cox Media’s team offers audience insights research that can help optimize your political advertising spend by finding opportunities to reach your target voting base, finding the best (and often less-expensive) options, even outside of large news networks like CNN and Fox News. Here are two examples of data we can provide:

  • Male Republican voters age 35+ are 135% more likely than the average viewer to watch Fox Business Network (with 47% of viewers in the segment, which is even higher than Fox News). Additionally, by advertising on Golf Channel you can reach 31.1% of republican viewers tuning in, likely for far less than the cost of advertising on Fox News.1
  • Female Democratic Voters age 35+ are 158% more likely than the average viewer to watch Hallmark Channel, with 34.2% of viewers within segment, higher than CNN.2

At Cox Media, we’re here to help tailor your advertising strategy and support you as you grow awareness for your political campaign. We’re striving to help candidates and campaign teams navigate these “unprecedented” times, offering the tools, knowledge and opportunities we have available. Click here to get started.




1Audience data from Cox homes within ‘Cox Phoenix, AZ – Polk + L2’ market (Q4 2019). 

2Audience data from Cox homes within ‘Cox Phoenix, AZ – Polk + L2’ market (Q4 2019). 

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